20 LESSONS LEARNED from the OFFICIAL and UNOFFICIAL NO CAMPAIGNS: Or, Why the Vote was so Close and Should Never be so Close Again

The flag flies to celebrate the No result at the 'Auld Acquaintance Cairn' at Gretna, created by the Hands Across the Border campaign.

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Here are 20 lessons learned from observing and participating in the No Campaign. We have organised them into 3 sections. Firstly, observations about the official No Campaign, and then sections on the Ideological and Physical campaigns in general. It is a 6,500 word document which has been compiled by Alistair McConnachie who was a "Permitted Participant" at the referendum.

Alistair would like to thank his supporters who alone make it financially possible for him to devote his full time to researching, writing and delivering this material. If you appreciate this content and if you would like to assist this work, please donate to Alistair via this page or use the PayPal button on the right of this page.

Posted on this site on 11 October 2014. Pic: The flag flies to celebrate the No result at the 'Auld Acquaintance Cairn' at Gretna, created by the Hands Across the Border campaign.

You can click on any of the topic headings below to jump to the appropriate part of the text.

6 LESSONS from the OFFICIAL NO CAMPAIGN – "BETTER TOGETHER"
LESSON 1: Run a Heart Campaign, as well as a Head Campaign: There were too many matters of the Head and not enough matters of the Heart
LESSON 2: Do not Compromise your Message by being too much Associated with Politicians and Political Parties
LESSON 3: Do not allow Politicians to Monopolise the Campaign. Instead, Allow, and Encourage, a Decentralised Public Movement to Develop
LESSON 4: Do Not Alienate People who Can Help You
LESSON 5: A Decentralised Campaign helps Activists to Distance Themselves and their Message from Association with Politicians and Parties
LESSON 6: A Decentralised Campaign tends to Leave a Movement in its Wake. A Centralised Campaign tends to Close it Down

7 LESSONS from the IDEOLOGICAL CAMPAIGN
LESSON 1: Focus on the UK as much as on Scotland
LESSON 2: Engage the English, and Welsh and Northern Irish
LESSON 3: Emphasise the Value of the UK to the World
LESSON 4: Emphasise the International Dangers of a UK Break-Up
LESSON 5: Emphasise the Negative Long-term Social Consequences for Everyone in the British Isles
LESSON 6: Do Not Promise More Powers
LESSON 7: The Labour Party Should Shut Down the Anti-Tory Rhetoric

7 LESSONS from the PHYSICAL CAMPAIGN
LESSON 1: More Stunts and Events at an Earlier Stage
LESSON 2: More Overt Britishness and More Union Jack
LESSON 3: Produce More Pro-UK Written Stuff
LESSON 4: Continue to Develop Alternative Media Platforms
LESSON 5: BT Needed to Raise the Game on Social Media, particularly Facebook
LESSON 6: Build a Legal Cadre
LESSON 7: Sort out the Question and the Answer


RESULT of the SCOTTISH REFERENDUM
Question: Should Scotland be an Independent Country?

Total Electorate: 4,283,392.
Turnout: 3,623,344 – 84.59% of Electorate.
Did Not Vote: 660,048 – 15.41% of Electorate.

No: 2,001,926 – which is 55.25% of Turnout; and 46.74% of the Electorate.
Yes: 1,617,989 – which is 44.65% of Turnout, and 37.77% of the Electorate.
Invalid: 3,429 – which is 0.1% of Turnout; and 0.08% of the Electorate.

383,937 more people voted No than Yes.
10.6% was the difference between No and Yes.
23.73% proportionally more people voted No than Yes (383,937 divided by 1,617,989).
62.15% of the Electorate either voted No or did not vote.

The referendum is over, the No side won, and we are intensely thankful for that. Our society, Britain, and the world, would have been thrown into unknowable chaos if it had gone the other way.

The United Kingdom is a great product! It should be easy to sell.

The SNP and nationalist "hardcore" in Scotland is around 1 in 5 voting people, with an additional 10% or so "soft nationalists" who vote "SNP" because "it's for Scotland" but who can often be convinced otherwise when they see the Big Picture of Britain.

Therefore, the Yes vote should never have risen above the 30% mark.

The pro-UK vote should have been at least 70-30, even 75-25, even 80-20! We're glad we won by almost 11% (10.6%) – which is substantial – but really the margin should have been so much greater.

What could have been done differently? Let us make some observations and suggestions.

We have divided this up into observations on the Ideological Campaign and the Physical Campaign and we make our suggestions appropriately. When we do so, we are speaking about the entire campaign – official and unofficial.

Before we address these Ideological and Physical matters, though, we want to take a step back and take a closer look at the official No campaign "Better Together" (BT).

Before we do that, let us just say…

A Thank You to the Official No Campaigners…
We'd especially like to mention the BT activists on the streets – who all worked tirelessly and bravely. A big "Well Done" and "Thank You" to you all. We are so grateful for your work.

And, we understand very well that BT was…what it was. Some of our suggestions below would not have been able to be incorporated or articulated by BT. We get that!

Our point is that: It should have understood its limitations and not been afraid to decentralise – as we now explain.

6 LESSONS from the OFFICIAL NO CAMPAIGN – BETTER TOGETHER
LESSON 1: Run a Heart Campaign, as well as a Head Campaign: There were too many matters of the Head and not enough matters of the Heart
There was a lot of concentration on technicalities – matters of the "Head" – which many of us struggle to understand or care about.

While these are important in their place, they are not the only thing on which people make their decisions.

People also make decisions based upon passion and emotion – matters of the "Heart".

Therefore, you need both campaigns running simultaneously.

BT could have run 2 campaigns. It mainly ran a "Head" campaign. This was a campaign with all the politicians talking about "the boring but necessary stuff" – currency unions, membership of the EU, and all the various policy matters.

But this could have run alongside a "Heart" campaign.

While the Head campaign would have concentrated (as it did) on economics and politics, the Heart campaign could have been run by "the normal people" focusing on the UK and its value to itself and to the world.

This Heart campaign would involve non-politicians speaking about their sense of identity, their emotion for the UK, their passion. It would involve emphasising the value of all the social, cultural, and historical elements. It would have kept the Big Picture of Britain centre stage.

It would have spoken about the things we speak about below (under Ideological Campaign).

To an extent BT did try this initially, with short video clips. And good for them…but as the campaign went on, that element was not fully developed and seemed to get lost.

It was left to non-BT groups like us at A Force For Good and especially non-BT aligned pro-UK Facebook pages, to articulate the "Heart" element.

The 'VoteNoBorders' Advan outside the Unity Concert organised by VoteNoBorders in Glasgow on 5 September 2014

It was only with the intervention of the non-BT campaign VoteNoBorders in early 2014, that the authentic Heart voice started to really get seen and heard again. VoteNoBorders did a good job on this and "Well Done" to them! (See pic of the VoteNoBorders Advan outside its Unity Concert, in Glasgow on 5 September 2014.)

If BT considered that a Heart campaign wasn't their bag, then it could, at least, have pointed their supporters to these other smaller groups which were out there pushing that angle.

LESSON 2: Do not Compromise your Message by being too much Associated with Politicians and Political Parties
Arguably, BT was a Labour Party front, funded by Tory money! Certainly, though, the Labour Party dominated the public image of BT.

Consequently, BT's strength was in dry matters of politics and economics. Alistair Darling's strength in particular, was speaking about economics – matters of the Head.

But this was a limitation. It should have understood that, and not been afraid to let go on various issues.

For example, while BT ran a very centralised politician-led campaign, the official "Yes Scotland" (YS) campaign sought to encourage a broadly-based public Movement.

If BT reasoned, perhaps accurately, that it would not be good at the matters of the British Heart, then it should have found ways to decentralise the campaign in order to either establish, or aid – with funds and support where necessary – those other groups who could "do all the Heart stuff".

And as we say, it could at least have pointed its supporters in the direction of such groups!

You have to decentralise and "let go" on various things. That is, after all, what the Yes Campaign did…

LESSON 3: Do not allow Politicians to Monopolise the Campaign. Instead, Allow, and Encourage, a Decentralised Public Movement to Develop
The YS campaign ran a decentralised campaign. While it did not control the fringes of the wilder Yes shores, it was in contact with them, and supported them with advice, information, publicity, legal help, and possibly even funding.

Yet, YS kept sufficient distance from some of these groups in order that it could maintain a considerable degree of "plausible denial".

That is, if something went wrong on the fringes then the YS HQ was sufficiently removed to say, "Nothing to do with us". Yet at the same time it did not alienate these groups. It remained sufficiently close to help them achieve maximum effect among that group's target demographic.

With BT, though, you either had a pass to get "in-house" or you were shut out – that is, if you were not actually deliberately marginalised or repudiated.

And BT sometimes went out of its way to alienate people it did not want!

LESSON 4: Do Not Alienate People who Can Help You
A decentralised campaign means that there would have been wide room for "diversity", including groups which might be thought "politically incorrect".

That means there should, at least, be no alienating of them just because some in the Labour Party find them politically incorrect.

The Orange Order, for example, has a considerable membership and might have been able to mobilise more helpers for BT than it did, if it had not been so viciously attacked by Jim Murphy.

Decentralising means that the politicians would have risked losing control over some of the messages and images. But that is better than keeping the campaign entirely "in the Head", and marginalising those people who can best touch the emotions, in their own particular ways, of their own particular audiences.

LESSON 5. A Decentralised Campaign helps Activists to Distance Themselves and their Message from Association with Politicians and Parties
As we have already stated, BT was highly identified as a Political Party organisation (with an emphasis on the Labour Party).

Because of the decentralised nature of the YS campaign, many of the Yes supporters were free to say, "This isn't about the SNP. It is about everyone's politics".

That was a lot harder for the No people to say because wherever we looked, it seemed to be all about Alistair Darling, Gordon Brown, the Labour Party, and the political class in general.

This was despite the fact that a lot of us on the No side did not support the Labour Party, (or the Tories or Lib Dems for that matter) did not want the "more powers" which the entire political class kept pushing, and did not necessarily approve of what the Westminster parties had done to the country in the last 30 years!

Yet, we ended up being stuck with them as our Leaders and Spokespeople, and Public Faces for No!

LESSON 6: A Decentralised Campaign tends to Leave a Movement in its Wake. A Centralised Campaign tends to Close it Down
In short, YS ran a diverse, decentralised campaign of the Head and Heart, compared to BTs exclusive, centralised campaign of the Head.

This meant that the Yes side created a public Movement which continues to exist, whereas the BT Campaign has shut up shop and its caravan has moved on. The politicians have gone back to business as usual.

Those of us who worked outside the BT campaign must continue to build the connections we established in order to develop a pro-UK movement in Scotland.

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7 LESSONS from the IDEOLOGICAL CAMPAIGN
LESSON 1: Focus on the UK as much as on Scotland
How a matter is "framed" for people to see and consider, is crucial to ultimately determining the decision that people will make.

Speaking about "the value of Scotland" is something that the nationalists can speak about endlessly. Speaking about "the value of the UK" is ground on which the nationalists are entirely lost and speechless!

There were far too many people thinking about voting "Yes", often on a whim, because too much of the debate was conducted within a Scottish nationalist frame which focused on Scotland alone, and not enough on the relevance and importance of the UK as a nation…a nation which is of immense value to us all, and to the world.

We wrote about this in our article "Love the UK Day and the Importance of Framing".

The more you concentrate people's attention on Scotland alone, then the more you legitimise the idea of Scotland being alone; the more you "normalise" an idea which, hitherto, was only the province of a minority.

That is what has been happening in the last two and a half years.

The idea of the UK breaking up – a hitherto unthinkable idea – has been "normalised" in the public mind.

The advent of the Scottish Parliament in 1999 incubated this kind of "Scotland First" thinking, not only among the Scottish Nationalists but also, to an extent, among many of the otherwise pro-UK politicians within it.

It generated what we refer to as a "Scottish Exceptionalist" viewpoint.

That is, for some of those politicians, SNP or otherwise, Scotland and its interests gets put first in everything, without due consideration to the relationship with the rest of the UK.

Without that due consideration, the relationship will suffer because Scotland is seen to be thoughtlessly "doing its own thing" without regard to the integrity of the entire UK.

The upshot of this has been that far too much of the debate around "independence" was, and is, about what is best for Scotland, alone.

During the referendum, there was far too much contemplation of the Scottish political navel. Too much drowning in the already claustrophobic Scottish political goldfish bowl.

For those of us who identify with the wider UK, the process is felt as mentally diminishing and politically suffocating.

The UK was in danger of being lost to view. Hence one of the reasons why the vote was so close.

LESSON 2: Engage the English, and Welsh and Northern Irish
Obsessing about Scotland alone had the effect of making people from the rest of the UK feel as if it was not for them to comment, or get involved.

We spoke to several people who would say to us something along the lines of, "I'm English so perhaps I shouldn't comment."

They had felt the pressure to conform to the overwhelming Scottish nationalist frame – the false idea that this was a matter for the people of Scotland and only the people of Scotland.

That was what Alex Salmond and the SNP wanted – to make the rest of the British feel that they did not have a legitimate voice.

We would say to such people immediately, "If you're British, you have every right to comment – because this concerns you as much as it concerns us in Scotland!"

Consequently – until the last month – the attention and energy of people in England was untapped.

In that regard, thank goodness for the Let's Stay Together campaign which, while arriving late in the day, was effective in the time it had available. It was a good example of a useful campaign which existed outside of the official BT campaign.

So the lesson here is that framing the debate at a wider UK level, at the earliest opportunity, would have helped more people from the rest of the British Isles to become engaged with the process, and contribute their time, energy, ideas, skills and money to the pro-UK fight.

We attempted to engage people in England when we spoke in London on 4 June 2014 on "21 Reasons why England should Care about Scotland Separating".

LESSON 3: Emphasise the Value of the UK to the World
With more of an emphasis on the UK, would have come more of an emphasis on the international dimension – the value of the UK to the world.

This would set the UK in its global context; involve a teaching opportunity about the history of Britain and the modern world; and a political opportunity to show how, today, we contribute for good positively and powerfully because we are a United Kingdom.

Unfortunately, the nationalists' aggression towards the UK on the international stage was never properly challenged.

LESSON 4: Emphasise the International Dangers of a UK Break-Up
If the ramifications for the rest of the UK were largely missing then the ramifications for the rest of the world were entirely missing.

A break-up of the UK would have had serious consequences for the entire British World – that is, the British Overseas Territories and the Commonwealth Realms; as well as for the Free World in general.

(The British Overseas Territories are those 14 countries which are still under British jurisdiction. The Commonwealth Realms are those 15 countries which are not under British jurisdiction but still have HM the Queen as their Head of State.)

Perhaps this was not something that BT wanted to get involved in.

In which case, it could have encouraged, and perhaps supported at a distance, other groups which could have done it. For example, we could have looked to enlist everyone in the British Overseas Territories whose futures would have been impacted negatively by a British break-up. How about, "Gibraltarians for No", "Falkland Islanders for No".

We could have looked to enlist people in the Commonwealth Realms, who would not want to see the mother country breaking up, with the subsequent constitutional turmoil which would arise in their own countries. How about "Australians for No", "Canadians for No".

The aim would be to place the UK in its wider context and hear reasons, at an international level, why the UK should stay together. Again, this moves debate out of the suffocating, excruciating, inward-looking parochialism in which the SNP successfully framed and mired the debate.

A journalist for the Canadian National Post wrote a good article on why, for Canada's sake, he prayed that the UK would stay together.

By concentrating on the Big Picture of Britain, and the Big Picture of Britain in the World we help people to see the entire context. In the past, especially in schools, Scotland and Britain's place was always firmly located and understood in a worldwide, international dimension. Let's get back to locating and understanding Scotland's place…within Britain's place…within the World!

LESSON 5: Emphasise the Negative Long-term Social Consequences for Everyone in the British Isles
These were never properly articulated by anyone (other than ourselves). Perhaps there was a fear of "being negative".

However, social disharmony would have arisen – immediately in Scotland, and in the long-term throughout the British Isles.

The best article we read on this matter was 2 days before the vote, by Nick Cohen, "Scottish nationalism: turning neighbours into foreigners".

We are not agreeing with Mr Cohen on all his comments, but he shows that with "independence" the social harmony in the UK would tend to break up, and the Scots and English in particular would grow distant to each other.

For example:

Meanwhile frantic charities, businesses and voluntary organisations will have to create separate Scottish offices for the new Scottish state. They will fill them with Scotsmen and women, for Scots are most likely to get a hearing from the new order. Back south, the same nationalist discrimination will apply in reverse. It will feel more natural to exclude Scots. I am not saying that an Englishman could not be a general in a Scottish army or a Scotswoman could not be a presenter on the BBC. People in jobs will stay in their jobs as the walls go up and the shutters come down. But when they retire, they will not be replaced. Nationalism excludes and narrows. It shrivels opportunities and limits horizons. Everyone from workers looking for new jobs to students looking for a university place will feel less inclined to look beyond the new borders.

We would add that even "independence" would not satisfy the hard core.

This is because an independent Scotland would constantly be coming up against political problems relating to the remainder of the UK.

This would only give the nationalists whole new opportunities to blame England and the English – for political gain – for whatever the problem may be. Que: More social disharmony.

And the terms of the divorce settlement would never be agreed to everyone's satisfaction. Look at how many nationalists today still complain about the original terms of the Treaty of Union in 1707! Imagine all the new grievances they would have to get worked up about, for hundreds of years to come! Que: More social disharmony.

How many people who voted Yes had given any thought whatsoever to these social consequences? How many were able to look into the future and work them out? How many were even thinking about this big picture at all?

Probably very few because it had not been properly emphasised.

LESSON 6: Do Not Promise More Powers
The biggest mistake made by BT and the pro-UK political parties, though, was their obsession with "more powers". More than anything else, this changed and confused the debate, and narrowed the vote.

For two and a half years, we wrote extensively on the dangers of "more powers". You can find our work by scrolling down the list of articles on the right of this page to the Chapter headed "The 'More Powers' Debate".

Rather than the debate being about the UK – and its value to itself and to the world – BT and the "unionist" politicians changed much of it into a debate about which new powers would be given by Westminster politicians to Holyrood politicians.

Some people say this helped to gain No votes? We strongly disagree!

For every wavering voter who was leaning to Yes, but chose No if it meant "more powers", how many other waverers looked on and made the obvious conclusions that:

1. The UK centre was not holding. The UK centre was not able to make a case for itself. It was not justifying itself as the unified, or unitary, law-making body which it was meant to be. It was showing self-doubt. It was vacillating. It was showing weakness. If the centre cannot make a case for itself and is prepared to cede ever more powers, then it makes sense to conclude, "Why not go all the way and have all the powers."

2. Furthermore, if "more powers" is a good thing, then it makes sense to conclude, "Why not go all the way and have all the powers."

If there were "undecided" who voted No because of "more powers" there are likely to be just as many – we believe far more – who voted Yes because they saw the centre was not holding and was unable to justify itself; and who reasoned correctly that if you want "more powers", then why not follow the inevitable logic and direction of that argument and go for "all powers".

We are convinced that such a percentage exists and we are convinced that it relentlessly drove down the No vote over time. We are not aware of any research being done on this though – but it seems logical and politically obvious to us.

Foolishly, the 3 major party leaders made a "vow" on the front page of a newspaper, to deliver more powers.

By doing this they compounded their error; they made a whip for their own backs; and to their detriment – and our detriment – they allowed the SNP to continue to dominate the political agenda, even after its defeat.

We warned them that exactly this would happen, and we sent our extensive manuscript entitled "'More Powers'" Debate: Principles, Guidelines and Strategies for Unionists" explaining this danger in depth to every single unionist MP for Scotland and unionist MSP in February 2014.

Furthermore, it is basic political science that any politician who is foolish enough to make a "promise" about doing something in a future which is unknowable is going to regret such a mistake. We think this article by Prof. Hugh McLachlan on the general subject of politicians making promises "Promises come distant second when duty calls" is making our relevant point.

LESSON 7: The Labour Party Should Shut Down the Anti-Tory Rhetoric
The Labour Party is entirely responsible for anti-Tory rhetoric in Scotland. During the 1980s and 90s it worked hard to demonise the Conservative Party in Scotland.

The Labour Party's relentless antipathy to the Tory Party caused two problems during the referendum:

1. It Strengthened the Hand of the Separatists and Continues to Do So
This anti-Tory rhetoric works to create the idea that people in Scotland are somehow different from people in England because there are proportionally fewer Tories in Scotland than in England. This is even though, 412,855 people (16.7%) voted Tory at the 2010 General Election in Scotland – only 3.2% fewer Tory voters than SNP voters. Indeed, it is quite possible that the Tories could surpass the SNP in the popular vote at future General Elections.

Nevertheless, it is this Labour Party rhetoric which helped to create a sense of there being a political "difference" between Scotland and England.

It was the Labour Party which virtually institutionalised this theme in Scottish political discourse. It created the idea, and continues to sustain the idea, that people in Scotland are different from people in England.

The SNP exploits the theme, but the Labour Party started it and doesn't seem to want to stop it.

Whenever the Labour Party promotes the theme, it only feeds into the separatist agenda that "Scots" are different from "the English" and therefore need political separation. It only helps the SNP!

2. The Labour Party Created Two Demons to Fight – Separatism and Toryism
This confused the voter. The enemy should have been narrowed down to only one – separatism.

For example, during the second TV debate, Alex Salmond challenged Alistair Darling about him working with the Tory Party in the BT alliance.

Salmond's intention was, in effect, to say to the Scottish people, "The Tories are the enemy, this man is working with them, and you can only get rid of them, and him, by voting for independence."

However, the Tories are not the enemy. The enemy is separatism! Therefore, Alistair Darling should have shot back at Salmond: "I will work with the Devil to keep you out."

By doing so, he would have focused the viewers' attention on the fact that the real threat was Salmond and his separatism. He would have emphasised that Salmond and his separatism was the greater enemy, and the only danger in this battle.

Separatism would have been clearly identified as the sole demon to be driven out – and not the side issue of the Tory Party.

That would have silenced Salmond!

Instead of fighting back in this manner, Darling vacillated with excuses.

By failing to clearly make the distinction, Darling left the viewer with the impression that Toryism was as much a danger to Scotland as separatism!

The logical conclusion for the viewer was, "If we want rid of the Tories, we'd better vote for separation." Salmond's view dominated!

The Labour Party should have concentrated on fighting one demon, not two – but decades of vilifying the Tory Party appeared too much for it to shake off.

By continuing to promote its anti-Tory rhetoric, Labour only succeeded in feeding and sustaining the SNP/Separatist message that Scotland needed independence to be "Free of Tory Rule Forever".

Will Labour ever learn its lesson?

Well, it's interesting to note that Labour's relentless demonisation of the Tory Party in Scotland, is now boomeranging back on it!

The separatists have started to refer to the Labour Party as "the Red Tories".

For example, there is a video of Jim Murphy MP being harangued on the street with a chant of "Red Tories out". (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=C3LeeGx1baU in the first 12 seconds)

A report of a rally held outside the Scottish Parliament which appeared in the Sunday Herald of 28-9-14 (p.8) reported a speaker saying of Labour, "These people are the Red Tories and we must drive them out of Scotland…Red Tories out!"

The SNP MSP Joan McAlpine referred to a leaflet she received as a "Red Tory (sorry, Scottish Labour) leaflet" in her newspaper column (Joan McAlpine, "Better off in the bin", The Daily Record, 1-10-14, p. 19). There is even a website "NoRedTories".

The Labour Party has been at the forefront of demonising the Tory Party in Scotland and so it really cannot complain when its rhetoric comes back to bite it.

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The 'VoteNoBorders' Advan in Port Glasgow on 6 September 2014

7 LESSONS from the PHYSICAL CAMPAIGN
LESSON 1: More Stunts and Events at an Earlier Stage
It is important to have stunts close to the event, but it is also necessary to start them as early as possible in the campaign.

This is because, regardless of the level of attendance or the political point that the stunt is making, they are social events which bring activists together to meet and network.

Once these activists have met each other they can then go on to work together again at other campaigning events. So, we need to be bringing activists together as early as possible so that the network grows.

It is through such stunts that an activist group can be built.

Such events also help the natural leaders and organisers to rise to the occasion, as well as bringing forward people who are willing to share their resources, whether property (gardens, houses) or land during the events.

We were impressed by the following stunts which ran outside of the official Better Together campaign, and which helped to capture the imagination, and create emotion around the idea of the United Kingdom, shared Britishness and Voting No.

After all, these are all key matters of "the Heart".

Too much of the BT campaign, as we have said, was a "Head" campaign. Stunts like these, create emotion – create a "Heart" for the campaign – and allow for great photographs, which can be shared widely on social media, and get people excited that "people are doing things"!

At the end of the day, it often comes down to who can create the most attractive emotion.

VoteNoBorders produced the only pro-UK song of the entire campaign, "Why Build Another Wall". It also had a music concert in Glasgow, and a Cycle Marathon which crossed the "border" between Scotland and England at 7 different points, to represent the freedom of movement we enjoy.

It ended the day at the "Auld Acquaintance Cairn" organised by Rory Stewart MP and his Hands Across the Border campaign, which also organised a musical event.

Local business owners who were unconnected with any particular group (as far as we can tell) organised a "Big Aerial No" event in Edinburgh (Sunday 14-9-14, pic below) which provided some useful imagery and brought a lot of concerned people together. It was a good example of how one person with an idea can mobilise their friends and really get something going.

The 'Let's Stay Together' Rally in Trafalgar Square on the 15 September 2014 was good to see!

Let's Stay Together organised a Celebrity Petition, and an effective Rally in Trafalgar Square on the 15 September 2014 (see pic).

We, at A Force For Good organised several events around the period of Armed Forces Day, the Queen's Baton Relay, the (British) Commonwealth Games and at several other times.

Other things that the No Side needed more of: More public debates in towns and villages. Perhaps copy the nationalists and have a Bus Journey around Scotland, stopping off and giving speeches. Set up seminars on British History even…anything that helps No campaigners to meet each other, network, and become more of a movement.

(The SNP/Separatists had a "Hills Have Ayes" group, which rambled up hills and put out big Yes signs.)

LESSON 2: More Overt Britishness and More Union Jack
Perhaps BT thought that all those who identified as British and liked to wave the Union Jack would be voting No anyway. Perhaps BT thought that they should down-play the Union Jack in favour of the Saltire in order to appeal to the "Scottish only" sort of people.

That is understandable and it works…but only to a point…

The thing is, a lot of people, especially the "undecided", don't have a strong allegiance one way or the other.

So the danger is that if you minimise the Union Jack entirely then such people might not notice, or tend to forget, what the No side is about and what a No vote is for.

Just a reminder: We are about the United Kingdom, and we are voting to keep it together!

We were not just voting for Scotland. We were voting for Britain too!

As we have already said above, there was too much emphasis on Scotland and not enough on Britain.

If you are an "undecided" and all you see are Saltires, then you might tend to think that this is all about Scotland. The dominance of such imagery could easily pull you towards the Yes side.

It is basic advertising psychology. If you are not reminded about something, then you can tend to forget about it.

If all you see are Saltires then you can be forgiven for forgetting about the Big Picture of Britain! It is only natural…

People need to be reminded.

And people like it when they see the Union Jack flying, because it reassures them. It gives them heart that other people are thinking about Britain too; other people are thinking about our friends and family, our fellow citizens, our shared history, our past, our present, our future, together.

Here's a suggestion: Every unionist-controlled council in Scotland could have been flying the Union Jack from its flagpole, every day, for 3 months at least, in the run-up to the referendum, reminding everyone what this is about.

Why didn't they? Why aren't they doing this anyway? Do they have no idea how to fight the cultural battle?

So, let's have more overt Britishness, and don't be afraid to fly the Union Jack.

The 'Big Aerial No', Edinburgh 14 September 2014.

LESSON 3: Produce More Pro-UK Written Stuff
In the entire 2 and a half year period of the referendum campaign, we know of only one pro-UK political book – Gordon Brown's My Scotland, Our Britain: A Future worth Sharing (2014) which was published.

However, walk into Waterstone's bookshop in Sauchiehall Street and there is a plethora of compilations of, essentially, muddled-headed separatist "essays", as well as books by people who are actually paid money to give us the misfortune of their opinion in our newspapers, TV and public platforms (Talking Britain Downers, Lesley Riddoch, and Iain Macwhirter, we're looking at you).

Clearly, we need more written works promoting the United Kingdom. We know what needs to be put down in print – and we can do it. Contact us, if you'd like to help us.

LESSON 4: Continue to Develop Alternative Media Platforms
On Monday 15 September 2014, we attended a Rally at the Royal Concert Hall in Glasgow organised by a pro-UK group called Working for Scotland. It was chaired by George Galloway.

We were struck by two things: The high quality of the speakers, and the fact that one of the speakers – a Prof Ronald MacDonald – had experienced trouble in getting his work properly publicised in the mainstream media over the past 2 years.

He academically devastated any claims that Scotland would be able to raise the money necessary to maintain the welfare system and pay off its share of the UK national debt, and he did so in straight forward language and very telling statistics.

Thankfully, we were able to introduce him to pro-UK Facebook people who could take his message out to a bigger audience. Another useful organisation campaigning for a No vote, The Scottish Research Society was filming the event and has put these speeches online.

But all this good work was happening very late in the day – 3 days before the referendum!

This spoke to us about a neglect in our movement. All of us should have been in touch with each other before now.

That is where our Lesson 1 point comes back in: "More Stunts and Events at an Earlier Stage" to enable us activists to meet and network with each other more effectively.

And we must continue to build our social media and internet outreach in order to take the messages which are being ignored by the mainstream media to the millions.

In that regard, we have a criticism of BT…

LESSON 5: BT Needed to Raise the Game on Social Media, particularly Facebook
There was a concern among many activists that the BT Facebook page was not being properly administered.

We don't know how it was organised, but from the beginning it did not look good. Nationalists and separatists got far too much free run of the place.

Our suggestion is that they needed, at the very least: 3 full-time Facebook page administrators, each working 8-hour shifts, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week – and who would ruthlessly delete and ban nats and seps who were not contributing to proving the unionist point.

If aggressive nats and seps are allowed to post on your Facebook page with impunity then the people who support you will become afraid to comment positively, because they cannot feel confident that they will be properly protected from verbal assault.

Yet too often it seemed that the BT Facebook posts would be overrun – dominated – by the nats and seps. For the cost of its "Communications Director" (who was a former SNP member) they could have employed 6 full time administrators on their Facebook site.

Furthermore, and as we have already mentioned, a decentralised BT campaign, which was not compromised by allegiance to politicians and political parties, would have given publicity to the other worthy pro-UK events and groups, instead of denying them oxygen.

And so a Very Big Thank You to the non-BT, pro-UK Facebook pages out there, upon whom so many of us absolutely depended, and who were responsible for promoting the information and articles, and for publicising the events and the groups which BT ignored.

LESSON 6: Build a Legal Cadre
"Lawyers and Money" are essential for any movement. Where were our Lawyers?

Where was the "One Stop Legal Shop" for No activists who needed legal advice; perhaps because they found themselves defamed online, or found their intellectual property being used without permission, or any of the other 101 legal problems which befall activists who put their heads above the parapet in a political struggle?

We need you guys! Where were you for us?

We heard of a "Lawyers for No" which may have appeared in the last few weeks, but we cannot find any trace of it. It does not appear to have a website? It was not an official "Permitted Participant" for No.

A "Lawyers for No" should have been set up 2 and a half years ago!

It should have had a website and Facebook page so it was easy to contact. It should have been holding regular drinks events at prestigious venues in towns and cities around Scotland, which would have been open to all No campaigners – whether or not they were part of the BT in-house network.

This would have enabled all activists (without prejudice) to meet the lawyers, develop relationships with them, learn who can help them, and where and how, and network with other activists.

It would help us know which lawyers would do pro bono (for free) work, and generally ensure that we were all networked legally for our safety.

Every political movement needs this legal cadre.

Yet we who were on the No side – and who were outside of the official BT No campaign – did not have a single lawyer on our side (that we knew of).

We did not have a legal team for No! What on earth does that tell us?

We, the soldiers, were left defenceless!

The Ballot Paper. Why is No under Yes when N come before Y in the alphabet?

LESSON 7: Sort out the Question and the Answer
People have been round the houses on the matter of the Question. Ideally it should have been arranged so that we had the "Yes" answer; that our side had the affirmative.

We didn't, but we still won. If we had the affirmative answer, we would have won even more.

But here is something you've probably never considered until now.

On the ballot paper, the "No" answer appeared under the "Yes" answer. So, on reading the ballot paper, it went…"Should Scotland be an independent country? Yes."

"No" deferred to "Yes" and was textually submitted to it. "No" was the second choice for people who bothered to read that far! How did that come about?

We wrote to the Electoral Commission on the 2 September 2014, in our position as an official "Permitted Participant". We asked:

Do you know why Yes is printed above No on the ballot paper, when N comes before Y in the alphabet? Is there an official Electoral Commission reason for that layout? As a No campaigner, it strikes me that the layout of the two words might have a subliminal effect on some people.

We received the following response from it on 9 September 2014.

The ballot paper was agreed by the Scottish Parliament and is in the Scottish Independence Referendum Act 2013. We raised the issue when we assessed the referendum question and there was a view that in plain English 'Yes' would naturally come before 'No'. To do it the other way would risk confusing the voter. Hope that answers your question.

"The ballot paper was agreed by the Scottish Parliament"…indeed! "Confusing"…otherwise? Make of that what you will?


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